Build­ing so­ci­ety fat cats land £6.5m

Na­tion­wide un­der fire over banker-style pay

Daily Mail - - City & Finance - by Rachel Mil­lard

BRI­TAIN’S big­gest build­ing so­ci­ety has come un­der fire for dish­ing out £6.5m to bosses.

Cam­paign­ers said the lav­ish awards at Na­tion­wide were at odds with its role as a mu­tual – sup­pos­edly driven by a de­sire to help its 15.5m mem­bers rather than profit.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Joe Gar­ner was handed £2.3m last year, in­clud­ing a bonus of £903,000 on top of his pay of £855,000.

The 48-year-old mar­ried fa­ther of one also re­ceived a pen­sion al­lowance of £342,000 and ben­e­fits worth £217,000 in­clud­ing medical in­sur­ance, a car and a driver, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­wide an­nual re­port pub­lished yes­ter­day.

Gar­ner’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Tony Prest­edge, 47, was paid £1.4m. Fi­nance boss Mark Ren­ni­son, 57, got £1.5m, while chief prod­ucts of­fi­cer Chris Rhodes, 54, took home £1.3m.

Crit­ics said that the pay deals were on a par with those handed out to FTSE bosses and were in­ap­pro­pri­ate at a mu­tual.

Dr Asa Cu­sack, a cus­tomer of Na­tion­wide and lec­turer at Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics, who has chal­lenged the firm on pay in the past, said: ‘This seems wrong and to go against the prin­ci­ples it would have had when it was es­tab­lished. They are not ma­gi­cians – it’s a job, and there are plenty of peo­ple who would do it.’

Ian Lu­cas, Labour MP for Wrex- ham, said: ‘I think it’s com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. Most peo­ple with Na­tion­wide are there for a par­tic­u­lar rea­son. They could go to banks if they wanted to but they wanted to sup­port build­ing so­ci­eties, and that means work­ing to­gether. I be­lieve in ap­pro­pri­ate re­wards but I think they are hav­ing a laugh. ‘It’s also a mat­ter of prin­ci­pal.’ Na­tion­wide has 15.5m mem­bers and lent £29.4bn in mort­gages last year. Profits dropped slightly to £977m.

Anger has been mount­ing over pay to build­ing so­ci­ety bosses. Crit­ics ar­gue it is against the prin­ci­pals of their or­gan­i­sa­tions and risks dam­ag­ing their stand­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to banks.

Last year, the Mail re­vealed how the bosses of Bri­tain’s five big­gest build­ing so­ci­eties raked in £6m in 2016, de­spite savers lan­guish­ing on low in­ter­est rates.

Top earn­ers in­cluded Mike Reg­nier, the boss of york­shire Build­ing So­ci­ety, who was paid £625,000 in 2016. His pay leapt even higher in 2017, up to £930,000.

Na­tion­wide has ar­gued that it needs to pay well to at­tract top tal­ent, and that if it was a listed com­pany it is large enough to be at the top end of the FTSE.

Luke Hild­yard, direc­tor of the High Pay Cen­tre cam­paign group, said: ‘ Na­tion­wide will ar­gue in one breath that they’re a large fi­nan­cial ser­vices or­gan­i­sa­tion and have to pay the sup­posed mar­ket rate for that sec­tor, then with the next mar­ket them­selves as a mu­tual so­ci­ety who be­have in a more re­spon­si­ble, long-term man­ner than the big banks.

‘It does seem a bit hyp­o­crit­i­cal, and it’s hard to imag­ine that they couldn’t be suc­cess­ful with­out pay­ing a much more rea­son­able amount of money.’

A Na­tion­wide spokesman said: ‘We need to at­tract the right tal­ent across the or­gan­i­sa­tion. We pay our peo­ple mar­ket rates.’

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